By Azia Seitcher-Hamel, Cadet Master-Corporal, 2870 Royal Canadian Dragoons –
My name is Cadet Master-Corporal Azia Seitcher-Hamel and I am 14 years old. My father is Abenaki First-Nation and my mother is Nuu-chah-nulth First-Nation. I also have one brother and two sisters but I am the oldest sibling. I am a proud member of the 2870 Royal Canadian Dragoons Cadet Corps.
Traditional teachings concerning the respect of nature are key components of our ancestral First-Nation morals and values. These sacred teachings inhabit my heart and they are now complemented by the many great opportunities to experience the cadet wilderness survival crafts training.
In addition to our traditional First-Nation knowledge, wearing a Cadet uniform truly changed my confidence and gave me many opportunities to be heard as a young Indigenous woman. I proudly wear my traditional braids while in uniform as a reminder that all our ancestors are watching and guiding my life path. As an Indigenous youth I am the living result of our collective history and the Army Cadets has helped me in providing opportunities and perspectives to better myself on many levels.
As teenagers we know that the social expectations are high, especially being a traditional Indigenous youth, sometimes feeling different from the crowd, but yet going to meet and talk with everyone when I go to cadets knowing I’m welcomed. The awkwardness of questioning someone’s judgement is lost into what becomes a family of friends who are open to listen to each other, share experiences together and build on our talents to pursue our goals in Cadets.
Canada is very multicultural. Growing up wanting to go into politics, it is important to understand the different cultures to acknowledge other ways of seeing and thinking. In the crowd of cadets, there is much multiculturalism; living in tents together and sharing stories from week to week with the group truly deepens awareness of each other as a people and what defines them as individual cultures.
Sometimes as teenagers we need to hear certain advice from someone else than our parents. Often I was forgetful and late to my classes. The helpful discipline of cadet timings really helped me to build my own muscle memory to write things down, and pay attention to dates and times. Without these small but efficient reminders I would miss out on many opportunities to represent our People.
While participating in cadet activities such as fundraisers, competitions, field training exercises, sports, camping trips and summer training camps you can always expect to be both proud and better suited for you next adventures. Meanwhile from those accomplishments you come to find many more opportunities and diverse knowledge.
As Indigenous youth it is most important to show what we are made of to the world to abolish stereotypes. It feels great to tell my relations and relatives that I am part of something that not only helps me better myself but also betters others. Cadets programs entitle you to become the best version of you and to feel strong and proud about who you truly are.
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